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January 08, 2006

Ulster 25 - 23 Glasgow Warriors

Celtic League match played at Ravenhill on Saturday January 7th 2006 | 6 comments

Dan's last minute penalty was cancelled out in the final play of the game
Yet again, Glasgow contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at Ravenhill.

With the end of normal time a matter of seconds away, Glasgow out-half Dan Parks stepped off his left and whacked a drop goal attempt that whistled past the post.

Six inches the other side and his side would have had just enough to end a dismal run and pick up a win that would have been a turbo boost to their morale.

A couple of minutes later he got another opportunity, this time from a penalty over 40 metres out. He nailed it. And still Glasgow lost.

The game restarted. James Topping reclaimed it. Neil Best drove it into midfield, and referee Phil Fear blew almost immediately for an Ulster penalty. Having missed two of his previous three attempts, David Humphreys stepped up and got it spot on. It was that type of game. Ulster were poor but resilient; Glasgow were more inventive but couldn't close things down when they had to.

It was a perfect afternoon for it: cold, but dry, and not a wisp of wind to militate against plans to keep the ball in hand. If the physical elements were fine, however, there was a bit of mental baggage being carried by both sides. It was six seasons since Ulster had lost four in a row in top level competition, and with three defeats in succession since last month they were in danger of running into more trouble. They would have taken comfort from the fact that Glasgow arrived in Belfast with three defeats in a row, and an away record that suggested that trend wasn't going to be sorted on the road.

And for most of the first quarter they played that way: struggling to retain the ball through a couple of phases and then hoofing it away when the task looked too much. Ulster were finding it easy enough, when Glasgow were putting width on their game, to spot the receiver, bury him, and force a change of plan.

And while all this was going on the game was developing a home-town look to it, as the referee racked up the penalties against the away team. Three out of three inside 18 minutes allowed Humphreys put himself into the clear in the Celtic League point scoring charts - with 506, overtaking Gavin Henson - but there was nothing in the Ulster game that suggested they would open the Scots up for tries.

The flip side to their comfortable defence was that Glasgow covered width of the field with their defenders, and Ulster played along. Rather than force them to commit defenders closer to the breakdown, everything went straight to Humphreys and beyond. It was food and drink to the opposition. The problem was compounded by the predictable and slow delivery of ball from the breakdown. Ulster needed Isaac Boss off the bench after half an hour, by which time things had taken a turn for the worse. Kieran Campbell remained at scrum-half however until the third quarter.

The first wave of the turning tide broke just after Humphreys had nailed his third penalty. Earlier there had signs that if the game broke up then the likes of hooker Scott Lawson and wing Hefin O'Hare could do some damage. It was Graeme Morrison however who took advantage of loose-head Bryan Young to step him in midfield, and then evade Bryn Cunningham, to score by the posts. Parks's conversion brought Glasgow back to 9-7, and in a matter of seconds all Ulster's grunt had looked pretty flimsy.

It got worse for the Ravenhill crowd of 6,487 before it got better. On 29 minutes, second row Craig Hamilton got over just when it seemed that Ulster had successfully contained a period of pressure. Parks added the points to make it 14-9 to Glasgow, and the crowd were getting jumpy.

He had them out to 17-9 after Simon Best was done for boring at a five-metre scrum, after O'Hare's pace initially had put the home team in all sorts of trouble. Three points was bad enough but it could have been seven. Ulster did pull three points back before the break after Rory Lamont high tackled Andrew Trimble to save a try. Had the referee got his number it would have been the bin. Instead, it was another penalty for Humphreys and Glasgow's half-time lead was 17-12.

Unless Ulster could tie in a few Scots there wasn't much chance of them making any progress in the second half. Unless they got a helping hand from somewhere. Step forward Parks: for the second time in the game one of his little chips didn't work out. This time it was intercepted by Humphreys who held off the posse to make it home from 65 metres. His conversion gave Ulster a two point lead, but they surrendered it again to Parks when they were caught for rear foot offside in their own 22.

The introduction of Boss put more energy into Ulster's performance and they got ahead again through Humphreys before Parks almost did them in injury time.

Attendance 6,487
Kevin Tkachuk
Scott Lawson
Euan Murray
Tim Barker
Craig Hamilton
Steve Swindall
John Beattie
Jon Petrie
Dan Parks
Graeme Beveridge
Rory Lamont
Andrew Henderson
Graeme Morrison
Hefin O'Hare
Graydon Staniforth
Fergus Thomson
Lee Harrison
Dan Turner
John Barclay
Sam Pinder
Colin Gregor
Mike Roberts
Match Substitutions
Off On
Graeme Beveridge Sam Pinder
Off On
Kevin Tkachuk Lee Harrison
Off On
Hefin O'Hare Mike Roberts
Off On
Craig Hamilton Dan Turner
Off On
Scott Lawson Fergus Thomson
Off On
Jon Petrie John Barclay
Off On
Euan Murray Kevin Tkachuk
20 minsGraeme Morrison Try 
20 minsDan Parks Conversion
29 minsCraig Hamilton Try 
29 minsDan Parks Conversion
36 minsDan Parks Penalty
52 minsDan Parks Penalty
83 minsDan Parks Penalty
Posted by S153 on January 8, 2006 05:51 PM | Reply to this comment

Another game thrown away, when will we learn to win games??

Posted by jenni on January 8, 2006 07:22 PM | Reply to this comment

Yes,ultimately we were beaten but the boys played with some spirit and heart, something that's been missing recently.

Posted by vicki on January 8, 2006 07:57 PM | Reply to this comment

Yep, a definite improvement on defeat at Netherdale, but still... as soon as Dan scored that penalty, we all started muttering about keeping our heads up, and not doing anything stupid. Argh!

Posted by jenni on January 8, 2006 08:07 PM | Reply to this comment

Glasgow ? Do anything stupid ? Surely not.

Posted by Alan on January 8, 2006 08:35 PM | Reply to this comment

Dan's "match winning" kick was brilliant ...not easy and under pressure in injury time....he took his kicks well and Ulster fans said he was a great striker of the ball. Humphrey's kicks were far easier (and he missed ?two).. and his distribution was not as good.

Posted by Big Blue on January 8, 2006 09:06 PM | Reply to this comment

Every Ulster fan I spoke to thought Glasgow had been robbed. It was an awful way to lose.

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